Anderson University senior Ryan Petter, a native of Springfield, Ill., was recently named a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact based in Boston, Mass. Campus Compact’s member college and university presidents from across the country nominated 162 college student leaders for the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows. Through service, community-based research, and advocacy, the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves and the root causes of some of the most pressing social issues.
As an economics major at Anderson University, Ryan Petter demonstrated a level of civic engagement that sets an example for others. He developed business plans for Molunda Miaka Orphanage in Zambia, set up a computer network for a new hospital in Ghana, helped construct a home in Mexico, worked on micro-finance in Costa Rica, and volunteered for the International Health and Development Network. Here in the US, Petter has volunteered at the Christian Center Rescue Mission Ministry, Neighbors Christian Ministry, Prison Ministry, and the Indiana Campus Compact Homeless in the City event.
Petter was nominated for the award by Dr. Joel Shrock, associate professor history. In his recommendation letter, Shrock stated that “Ryan is not only in our academic Honors Program but also gained entrance into our competitive Center for Public Service, which is reserved for the most academically talented and most committed to public service. Throughout his academic career he has sought out opportunities to help those in developing nations to build business capacity to solve their problems.”
Petter was grateful to be nomination for the award. “I appreciate the recognition and the recommendation for the Newman Award,” Petter said. “This award is a great honor to receive. I believe AU has helped shape me into the person I am today. Being able to branch out and get involved in student government, campus ministries, and Students in Free Enterprise was one reason I came to AU.”
Shrock said schools do not just nominate someone for the Newman Award just to have representation. They nominate someone who shows outstanding qualities. “Ryan is an exceptionally talented and motivated leader who has always found a way to harness his abilities for the benefit of others,” Shrock said. “His commitment to helping people combat poverty can truly change the fate of many who are mired in economic distress throughout the developing world.”
Petter will join a network of Newman Civic Fellows around the country. Together — sharing ideas and tools through online networking — the Fellows will leverage an even greater capacity for service and change, and will continue to set examples for their classmates and others.
“These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can — and does — play in building a better world,” noted Campus Compact Board Chair James B. Dworkin, chancellor at Purdue University North Central.
Through service-learning courses and other opportunities for community engagement, colleges are developing students’ public problem-solving skills, such as the ability to analyze community needs, the willingness to participate in public processes and debate, the commitment to raise awareness about challenges, and the ability to inspire others to become part of solutions.
“Dr. Frank Newman, a founder of Campus Compact, had a tremendous impact on American education and its role in the development of citizens who are eager and prepared to make a difference,” explained Campus Compact President Maureen Curley. “He dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform and this new group of Newman Civic Fellows would have inspired him. They are reflections and affirmations of his life’s work.”
Campus Compact is a national coalition of almost 1,200 college and university presidents — representing some 6 million+ students — who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education, that is, to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. For more information about the organization and the award, visit www.compact.org.
— Matt Daughtery, a senior from Breese, Ill., contributed to this story. Daugherty, a communication arts and marketing major, is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.